Why Are They Closed? Massive Peer Reviewed Study Shows Virtually No Transmission in NC Schools

RALEIGH – If you’re the parent to school-aged children and they are actually afforded the opportunity to attend in-person instruction, you’re one of the lucky ones. School districts across the state, after returning to in-person instruction in fits and starts, have regressed to fully remote instruction in reaction to heightened Pandemic Panic driven by higher ‘case’ numbers.

The reflexive closing of schools, though, has been in direct contradiction to the science and data. Most recently, a massive peer reviewed study conducted by Duke University and University of North Carolina told us more about kids and teachers contracting and transmitting the coronavirus in schools — it’s virtually nonexistent.

The highlights:

  • 11 School Districts
  • 90,000 NC Students and Staff
  • Over the First Nine Weeks of In-Person Instruction
  • Incidence of Transmission from Kids to Teachers: ZERO
  • Incidence of Transmission from Teacher to Kids: 32

“Across the 11 school districts, 773 community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections were documented by molecular testing; however, there were only 32 adjudicated cases of secondary transmission across the 11 districts combined in 9 weeks of instruction. Six districts had 0 secondary infections, 2 had 1 case, and 3 had multiple cases. There were 6 cases of secondary transmission in the pre-K setting; 11 in elementary schools, 6 in middle schools, 5 in high schools, and 4 in K–12 schools. There were no cases of child-to-adult within-school transmission. […]

During an ongoing pandemic with widespread community transmission, cases of SARS-CoV-2 with subsequent morbidity and mortality will occur regardless of whether schools allow inperson instruction. A key question exists for policy makers: Is the within-school spread of SARCoV-2 greater, equal to, or less than that observed in the broader community?

During our study, counties housing the 11 participating school districts had 1–2 new SARS-CoV-2 infections per 1,000 residents per week; this is considerable community transmission, as reflected by the 773 community-acquired cases. On average, NC residents with SARS-CoV-2 infected slightly more than 1 other individual during these 9 weeks. If secondary transmission were as common in schools as in the community, we would anticipate 800–900 secondary infections within schools; however, only 32 within-school SARS-CoV-2 transmissions occurred. […]


Our cohort study demonstrated that enforcing SARS-CoV-2 mitigation policies such as masking, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, resulted in minimal clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection and low rates of secondary transmission in schools, and did not cause a larger community infection burden. Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.”

By now you’ve heard the concerns of teachers, especially via leaders of teachers associations. They are terrified to conduct in-person schooling because they just know that the kids are going to spread coronavirus around and infect teachers who are more at risk of suffering the worst consequences of the COVID-19.

However, as this study confirms, that fear is just not warranted. The ‘science and data’ clearly show that in-person school instruction is safe for students and teachers, presumably made safer still by following simple mitigation practices.

On the other hand, we know empirically and anecdotally how damaging and harmful it is for students to be kept out of school, away from peers, with actual learning severely hindered, and the burden it on children’s mental health.

Yet, school administrators and teachers associations continue to keep districts closed. Why?

Considering what the ‘science and data’ tell us, we’re only left with ulterior motives to explain such a predisposition for keeping schools closed. The Durham Teachers Association demanded Medicaid expansion and direct relief payments to illegal immigrants as preconditions for agreeing to return to in-person instruction.

The cliche is, ‘It’s all about the kids.’ The reality may be that it’s all about the teachers’ groups and their politics.

Read the full study here.

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